illustration: Maiko Asano

Try “TRP body-warming” if you feel very cold

Coldness in fingers and toes is hard to bear in winter. The blood vessels in our fingertips and toes shrink to prevent heat dissipation from the limbs and maintain body temperature. This is the mechanism of the body to protect ourselves from coldness. On the contrary, in summer, the body dissipates excess heat through expanding blood vessels and sweating to prevent body temperature from rising.

You should take care of yourself if you have cold limbs despite being in a warm room. Coldness impedes blood and lymph flow, lowering metabolism and causing several bad conditions. Extreme coldness in the limbs will be propagated to the stomach and lower back and often cause an internal or gynecological disease. A cold body can lead to all kinds of disease. The body should always be kept warm.

Ginger makes you feel warm because the TRP channel is activated

Ginger quickly makes you feel warm. It is known as a popular “body-warming food” containing pungent ingredients, such as gingerol and shogaol, that warm the body. In fact, its body-warming effect is closely connected to the TRP channel family. Did you know that?

The TRP channel family consists of cell sensors, mainly temperature sensors, that signal to the brain. The signal triggers the brain when the TRP channel in the cell detects heat or cold and makes the blood vessels expand or shrink to maintain constant body temperature.

This TRP channel family is also activated by plant ingredients. For example, the pungent ingredients of ginger stimulate a channel called TRPV1, which usually recognizes a temperature of 43℃ and higher to be hot. Ginger stimulates TRPV1, confusing the brain into feeling “hot” and expanding peripheral blood vessels. The bloodstream increases, and the body really becomes hot. In the same way, chili pepper warms the body. Cosmetics such as body massage cream containing chili powder or ginger will make you feel warm.

“TRP body-warming” tea with bay leaf and clove to warm up your whole body

TRPV1 is activated by eugenol contained in bay leaf and clove, sanshool in Japanese pepper, piperine in pepper, allicin in onion and garlic, etc. Bay leaf, clove and onion are ingredients of pot-au-feu. Curry contains many spices such as chili pepper, garlic and pepper. The dishes that make us feel warm use TRPV1-activating ingredients.

Taking in the TRPV1-activating ingredients is an easy way of “TRP body-warming.” In addition to pot-au-feu and curry, drinking tea is a good idea and takes less time. To say the least about ginger tea, it takes only five to six minutes to steam cut bay leaves or crushed cloves in hot water. Why don’t you pick up the habit of drinking “TRP body-warming” tea every day? You can enjoy it by adding pepper or any other ingredients to your preference. Cold body is sometimes caused by lack of physical exercise, daily stresses and autonomous nervous disorder. Don’t forget to do moderate exercises and relax yourself.